Push to sell marijuana in Oregon kicks off

Push to sell marijuana in Oregon kicks off »Play Video
Jennifer Alexander works to get signatures for a ballot measure that would allow adults over 21 to buy and grow marijuana in Oregon.

PORTLAND, Ore. – A new push to sell marijuana in stores kicked off in Oregon Monday.

If supporters can get the initiative on the ballot and approved by voters, it would allow any adult over 21 to buy pot at a state licensed store or grow it in Oregon.

Supporters of the idea say it would generate hundreds of millions of dollars for the state each year.

Chief petitioner, Paul Stanford, has been leading the effort to legalize marijuana in Oregon since 1984. This time he said he thinks even the name of the measure will get people to pay attention: “The Oregon Cannabis Tax Act.”

To get the measure on the November 2012 ballot, supporters need to collect 90,000 signatures by July 2012.

The campaign’s manager, Jennifer Alexander, was working to collect signatures near the Lloyd Center Monday.

“I understand some of the arguments against marijuana, but I don’t think any of them justify locking up people and wasting all the money that we do enforcing prohibition,” Alexander said.

“Saving taxpayers’ money is at the heart of the strategy this time and to some it’s an argument that works.

“If you legalize it, you save money on police making arrests on petty crimes like that,” said John Hall.

Stanford said polls show most people on the West Coast support legalizing pot.

“There’s a big sea change. There’ve been polls by Zogby and other organizations,” he said.

Next year, Washington, Oregon and California may have marijuana measures on the ballot. Supporters say legalization would raise $140 million in taxes for Oregon and save $60 million in law enforcement costs.

But not everyone is lining up to sign up.

Adina Tudorache said she worries that legalizing pot would put more dangerous drivers on the road.

“I actually had a cousin who almost died because someone was high driving, and he was riding his bike,” she said. “So I definitely don’t think that’s a good idea.”